The Best Interactive Cat Toys

The Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat

Our Top Pick for 2016: The Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $46.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Cats are often seen as solitary creatures, but animal behavioral experts report that cats, like dogs, crave human contact and interaction on a regular basis. You’ve probably seen how your cat can entertain himself, sometimes for surprisingly long periods of time, but it’s likely that he really would like to have you play with him each day. Cats who have regular interaction with their owners are more trusting, less stressed and generally in better health.

There are hundreds of interactive cat toys on the market today, but finding the right one for your cat may be more difficult than you realize. You’ll need to take into consideration your cat’s natural instincts as a hunter as well as his individual personality. The interactive toy’s size, movement and texture are also important factors in finding the right toy for your cat. Finally, you must consider safety as well. The following toys get excellent reviews from experienced cat owners as examples of ideal interactive toys you and your cat will love.

Table of contents

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4 Hanging Cat Toys
Perfect For Kitten Training
5 Different Games
Easy Storage
Endless Configurations
Dishwasher-safe
Soft Sturdy Material
Warmer Bed No Electricity
Stimulates Senses
Keeps Pet Active
5x Larger Than Other Cat Mats
Challenges
Long Time Fun
Nontoxic
For Cats Of All Ages

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): The Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat

The Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $46.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat is available for $39.99 from the Ripple Rug website or through Amazon. Shipping is free when the mat is purchased through the Ripple Rug website or for Amazon Prime members.

At first the Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat would appear to be a low-tech solution to the kind of interactive play a cat prefers, but you’d be wrong to think that. The Ripple Rug mat is a simple piece of carpet, 47 inches by 35 inches by half an inch thick. The rug comes with a bottom piece featuring a non-slip bottom surface and a top piece with 14 various sized and shaped holes that allow you and your cat to reshape her play environment in endless configurations. The top piece includes Velcro straps that attach it to the bottom piece. Not just a simple piece of carpet, the Ripple Rug offers cats the best possible play environment. The Ripple Rug allows your cat to be the predatory feline she was created to be in a safe environment with the added benefit of interaction with you, her owner, which she craves. Her sense of smell is even stimulated as she interacts with the Ripple Rug, and when she’s ready to rest, the rug is an excellent place to snooze.

The Ripple Rug is made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, but it’s a smooth and comfortable surface. The rug comes in two pieces, a top piece which features its primary attraction, the various-sized and shaped holes in the fabric, and an intact bottom piece. The Ripple Rug has a new configuration each time your cat interacts with it. You simply reshape the Ripple Rug to provide tunnels for your cat to hide in or from which to pounce onto toys. The different sizes of the holes allow your cat to extend paws through smaller areas or pounce with his entire body out of larger holes. Since the Ripple Rug Play Mat can be set up differently each time your cat is ready to play, he won’t eventually get bored because this interactive cat toy is never the same from day to day.

Users who have purchased the Ripple Rug Play Mat report that their cats love exploring the different configurations that can be made whenever you reset the mat. Some cats enjoy diving into the holes and tunnels created by the mat, while others prefer to wait to pounce on their housemates who are playing inside the mat’s nooks and crannies. Some cats who may be older and not as active still enjoy sharpening their claws on the bottom rug or chewing on the material, which can stand up to the wear and tear of cat activity.

There are some drawbacks to the Ripple Rug Cat Activity Play Mat, according to Amazon reviewers. Some users found that after some months of use, the top section of rug becomes limp and no longer holds its shape as it did when it was new, making it less attractive to their cats. Others reported that larger cats can have difficulties getting through the holes in the top section of the rug. Some reviewers reported that, although many reviews cite the hours of fun cats can have with the Ripple Rug Activity Play Mat, their cats just weren’t interested in the product. Finally, concerns about the use of looped carpeting was also cited, as cats can get their claws stuck in this kind of carpeting.

Finding an interactive cat toy that every cat will love to play with is nearly an impossible task, but in the case of the Ripple Rug Activity Play Mat, many cat owners who have purchased and used this product report that their cats can be entertained for hours and that the cats continue to enjoy the Play Mat for a long time to come.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Petty Love House Cat Activity Center with Hanging Toy Balls

Petty Love House Cat Activity Center with Hanging Toy Balls

View it on Amazon for $29.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe interactive Petty Love House Cat Activity Center with Hanging Toy Balls is designed to give your cat a time of interesting and energetic play time when you aren’t available to play with her yourself. This toy, called a ladybug cat activity center by its manufacturer, retails for $17.99. It’s a square piece of material measuring 24 inches by 24 inches that includes four hanging cat toys attached to two 13-inch high poles.

In some ways this Cat Activity Center resembles the kind of toy you’d find an infant enjoying. Just as a baby who isn’t yet sitting up likes to lie on his back to play with his toys, your cat will enjoy lying on the mat shaped like a ladybug to bat at and bite the hanging toys. The cords that attach the toys to the Activity Center are strong enough to keep cats from pulling the toys down. When the Cat Activity Center isn’t being used, it folds up easily and can be stored in a zippered storage case that is provided. No assembly is required to get the Activity Center ready for your cat to start playing with it.

Cat owners who have purchased the Cat Activity Center with Hanging Toy Balls report that kittens especially love playing with the attached toys. However, Amazon reviewers also say that their older cats enjoy lying on the ladybug mat to bat at the toys. In fact, some reviewers say that their older cats who seemed to have outgrown their interest in toys appear to become kitten-like again when the Cat Activity Center is brought out.

Cat owners who own the Cat Activity Center report that one of the biggest benefits of the Petty Love House Cat Activity Center is how it gets cats moving. Cats that might otherwise spend hours napping are enticed and encouraged to play with the balls and toys hanging from the Activity Center, giving them needed exercise as they’re able to play rambunctiously with the Activity Center. The Cat Activity Center is lightweight, which can sometimes lead to your cat flipping it over while she’s enthusiastically playing with the toys, but she won’t be hurt when this happens.

Some cat owners who have purchased the Cat Activity Center report that their cats have been able to easily pull the toys off the poles and shred the toys. Others report that their cats either flipped over the entire toy or had it fold up on them. Since the Cat Activity Center is lightweight, the cats weren’t injured when this happened.

One reviewer reported that the Petty Love House Cat Activity Center arrived damaged to the point that it was unusable. However, the customer service team this owner worked with did all they could in their power to make the customer happy. Once it became known that the customer had thrown out the unusable product, the customer service team quickly refunded the purchase price. Especially for kittens, the Petty Love House Cat Activity Center is an excellent choice to give your cat the energetic play she needs when you aren’t around.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center 

Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center 

View it on Amazon for $27.32*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardAs you well know if you’re owned by a cat, these pets don’t just sleep, eat and gaze at you adoringly. Cats are active, intelligent animals that want to interact with their surroundings. It sometimes can be hard to find interactive games and toys that will attract your cat to hunt, pounce and energetically move around the room. The Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Center is an unusual type of interactive cat toy that can make your cat eager to do just that, at the same time that she’s feeding.

The Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center retails for $33.99. The Activity Center is approximately 16 inches wide by 12 inches long and is three inches tall and is made of plastic and rubber materials. One of the benefits of this Activity Center is that the bowls used can be unscrewed from their bases and either washed by hand or in the dishwasher.

The Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center is a simple set of games set up on a board that entices your cat to use her hunting skills to snag treats from objects such as bowls, tunnels and pegs. It may seem as though your cat might not want to expend the effort necessary to get treats this way, but cat owners who have used the Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center report that their cats love the added excitement of working to get their treats rather than having the treats handed to them.

The five different containers include:
• A set of globes that look like fish bowls
• Round pegs that make treats visible to your cat from a distance
• An alleyway that provides your cat the opportunity to retrieve treats while lying down
• A covered area that your cat can access with just her tongue, which is ideal for liquid treats
• A tunnel that appeals to your cat’s stalking instincts as she retrieves treats

The different containers help your cat use all of her senses to get to the treats you’ve placed in the Activity Center. If you’d like some ideas yourself to help make the game of finding treats more interesting for your cat, an instruction booklet provides tips and ideas from the Activity Center’s creators and other cat owners.

Cat owners who have used the Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center report that cats are entertained by this interactive toy for up to half an hour at a time, sometimes even longer. Many owners say that the Activity Center is especially good in a household with multiple cats. The cats aren’t easily bored by this Activity Center, and instead encourage each other to play and compete for treats.

Reviewers who have purchased the 5-in-1 Activity Center report that this is an excellent toy with which to entertain their cat. It can also play a positive role in helping cats to stop overeating. Older cats who aren’t as active appear to love the challenge of removing cat treats from the 5-in-1 Activity Center and become more energetic as they participate in finding and retrieving their food. Even larger cats with bigger paws are able to reach into the globes, tunnel and alleyway to get the treats waiting there for them.

As is the case with other interactive cat toys, some cats just aren’t interested in working or playing to get to their food. Some reviewers reported that their cats refused to interact with the 5-in-1 Activity Center at all, while others quickly tired of it. Some cat owners reported that their cats’ paws seemed to be too large to fit into the bowls, tunnels and globes. However, most owners reported that their cats were more than happy to hunt for their treats.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Interactive Toy

Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Interactive Toy

View it on Amazon for $3.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Interactive Toy, according to its website, is a “cat toy that is designed to charm, not harm”. This interactive cat toy sells for the budget price of $4.19, and offers your cat a superb aerobic session as well as quality interactive time with you. The toy is comprised of a polycarbonate wand to which is attached a multi-colored piece of fabric. The wand itself is about 16 inches long, while the attached piece of fabric has a length of approximately 48 inches.

Reviewers who have purchased the Cat Dancer Cat Charmer report that their inactive cats who wouldn’t move for other interactive toys are mesmerized by the dangling piece of fabric and are willing to chase it around the room for up to half an hour. The Cat Charmer isn’t designed to be played with alone by your cat; instead, you and she can have fun interacting with it and each other. The wand component of the interactive toy is made of a sturdy material that reviewers say is the same kind of material used to manufacture bullet-proof windows. Thus it’s unlikely that your cat will be able to damage the wand. The colorful fabric isn’t easily separated from the wand, so your cat likely won’t be able to destroy the toy.

That said, some reviewers reported that their cats were determined to destroy the interactive toy anyway, and with a lot of time and effort, did manage to pull some of the strands of fabric off the wand and eat them. Since this is an interactive toy, you’ll be on hand to make sure your cat isn’t able to do that. It’s recommended that when you aren’t around to play with your cat, the Cat Charmer Interactive Toy should be put away in a safe place. According to reviewers, problems with the Cat Charmer Interactive Toy occurred most frequently when a cat either hid the toy from its owner or was allowed to play with it unattended. Several owners reported finding pieces of the toy’s fabric in their cats’ feces, and in a few cases ingesting part of the toy resulted in the cat needing surgery.

When it’s used properly as an interactive toy you and your cat play with together, the Cat Dancer Cat Charmer is an exciting addition to the play time you’ll enjoy.


Pre-purchase considerations

Safety

The most important consideration you’ll want to keep in the front of your mind when choosing an interactive cat toy is its safety. Toys with sharp edges, of course, can hurt your cat’s paws or mouth when she starts chasing or biting them. But an even more important consideration is the toy’s durability. If a toy isn’t put together well enough to withstand numerous energetic play times, your cat could be harmed. Pieces of string or fabric that she can chew off and ingest can lead to digestive issues or even more serious stomach problems. Make sure the toy you choose has a good rating in the area of safety.

Interactive vs Solo Play Toys

Some cat toys are designed to be interactive, giving you and your cat the opportunity to spend quality time together. Other toys are better as solo play toys for your cat for those times when you aren’t around or you and she just need a break from each other. If you don’t know which kind of toy you’re using to play with your cat, you and she aren’t likely to have a good time together. It can be frustrating when your cat doesn’t interact with a toy you think she’ll love, but it might just be because she’d rather play with it alone.

Type of Play Your Cat Prefers

Like people, cats have personalities that manifest themselves in the ways in which they play with you, other cats or pets in your household and with the toys you provide. Your cat’s age and size can have an impact on the types of toys she prefers. She may be a hunter at heart and love to stalk imaginary prey, or she might be the kind of cat who likes nothing more than investigating an empty paper bag or box from which she can pounce. No matter what kind of personality your cat has, there are interactive cat toys on the market that she’ll love. You just need to do some research to find the best types of toys for her.

Toys That Engage Your Cat’s Senses

Your cat’s sense of sight, hearing and touch are very important to her. Toys that mimic the sounds of small animals rustling in leaves, for example, are favorites of many cats, while other cats love chasing toys covered with colorful feathers. The feel of a toy in your cat’s paws is also worth considering, as you have doubtless realized as you watch her gravitate toward soft places to sleep while completely ignoring other areas.

Size of the Toy

The size of your cat does have an impact on the type of interactive toy she prefers. Kittens and smaller cats, for example, gravitate toward small balls and similar types of toys because they feel as though they are the predator rather than the prey. Larger and older cats, on the other hand, often enjoy interacting with larger toys. However, whenever your cat feels threatened by a toy’s size, he’ll either attack it, which can damage it and possibly hurt him, or he’ll ignore it completely.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Finding the right interactive toy that you and your cat can enjoy together will likely take some time. Doing online research and asking friends who are cat owners for their recommendations is a good place to start. Once you have some ideas in mind, you can choose two or three of the most likely candidates to test with your cat. Don’t be surprised or discouraged if your first attempt or two at engaging your cat in interactive play doesn’t work well, especially if it’s something you haven’t done before. Be persistent. You’ll eventually find the interactive toys that your cat will beg you to bring out each day for play time that benefits both of you.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Pam Johnson Bennett, Interactive Play Therapy, Cat Behavior Associates.com, February 7, 2012
  2. Pam Johnson Bennett, Choosing the Right Toys for Your Cat: My 12 Tips, Cat Behavior Associates.com, May 12, 2016
  3. Lorena Avila, Trixie 5-in-1 Cat Activity Board Station Review, Cat Food Dispenser Reviews
  4. Cat Dancer-Cat Charmer Wand Review, TopCatToyReview.com
  5. Top 10 Best Interactive Cat Toys, Heavy.com, November 10, 2015
  6. Ingrid King, consciouscat.net, March 8, 2016
  7. Pam Johnson Bennett, Cats Can Have Toy Preferences, catbehaviorassociates.com, April 22, 2013

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